Calif. tech investor’s wedding trashed base of world-renowned landmark

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A worker moves furniture into a truck from Fullerton, Calif.-based Found Rental Co., the day after Andrew Chen and Emma Waldron’s wedding, Sept. 3, 2023.

A worker moves furniture into a truck from Fullerton, Calif.-based Found Rental Co., the day after Andrew Chen and Emma Waldron’s wedding, Sept. 3, 2023.

Courtesy of Pamela Gibson

Castleton Tower is a prominent natural landmark in Utah, near the tiny town of Castle Valley but otherwise ringed by miles of beautiful, rocky scenery.

That didn’t stop Andrew Chen, a prominent Silicon Valley tech investor, and Emma Waldron, a startup founder and former Miss Ireland, from picking the base of the rock formation for their wedding party site — and then, reportedly, trashing it. Now, the couple appears to be trying to wipe some records of the event from the internet.

Castle Valley councilmember Pamela Gibson found the mess on a walk from her cabin on Sept. 3, the morning after the wedding, she told SFGATE last week. Movers from a Fullerton, California-based rental company were boxing up furniture in a massive truck, which had smashed vegetation and left treads on the soil, she said. Elsewhere, bags of trash and food lay scattered. The councilmember said she was so angry she was shaking.

When Gibson returned the next day, the furniture was gone but the site was still scattered with ripped-open trash bags, broken glass and cardboard, she said. Bureau of Land Management rangers ended up having to collect the “abandoned property and refuse,” according to an email from a BLM official sent to Gibson and Castle Valley Mayor Jazmine Duncan on Sept. 7 that was viewed by SFGATE.

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A ripped-open bag of trash sits in a pile with other refuse from the wedding, two days after, on Sept. 4, 2023. Bureau of Land Management park rangers eventually cleaned the area, per an email from a BLM official.

A ripped-open bag of trash sits in a pile with other refuse from the wedding, two days after, on Sept. 4, 2023. Bureau of Land Management park rangers eventually cleaned the area, per an email from a BLM official.

Courtesy of Pamela Gibson

Chen picks video game and metaverse investments for the powerful Menlo Park-based venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Before that, he worked as the leader of Rider Growth at Uber. Waldron won Miss Ireland in 2010 and now helms an AI startup called Spuddie, which promises to develop a digital “best bud” that would “tend to your emotional and intellectual nourishment,” the company’s site says. Both Chen and Waldron list their locations as both San Francisco and Los Angeles on social media.

Per the BLM email sent to Gibson and Duncan, the couple got the go-ahead from the agency to have a “simple wedding ceremony with one small white tent” at the base of Castleton Tower. But according to photos of the wedding’s aftermath provided to SFGATE by Gibson, Castle Valley residents and now-deleted social media posts, the celebration seems to have been far larger than that.

Andrew Chen and Emma Waldron reportedly left various items scattered at the base of Utah’s Castleton Tower, pictured here on Sept. 4, 2023, two days after their wedding.

Andrew Chen and Emma Waldron reportedly left various items scattered at the base of Utah’s Castleton Tower, pictured here on Sept. 4, 2023, two days after their wedding.

Courtesy of Pamela Gibson

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After discussing the mess at a Castle Valley town council meeting on Sept. 20, Duncan, Gibson and the town’s other councilmembers sent a letter to the BLM on Oct. 2, complaining that when Chen and Waldron got the go-ahead to use the site, they had omitted that they’d use a generator, contract a catering service that would set up tables and chairs, erect a 24-foot cabana, line the road with glass candles, use a toilet facility service and leave behind the refuse for days after the ceremony. The letter implored the BLM not to allow wedding receptions at the base of Castleton Tower in the future, writing that the expectations of any wedding couple can “easily expand” into “the Waldron/Chen extravaganza.” 

“It was a commercial event — small by LA standards, I’m sure, but still, it should not have happened,” Gibson told SFGATE. “And they’re not being responsible for it, that’s what really galls me.”

She added, “It was effectively four days where the public could not enjoy what it should be able to enjoy because of these people that have no qualms about misrepresenting something just so they can have their pretty little wedding.” Gibson said two months after the wedding, she still is finding broken glass in the dirt at the site. The tower, near Moab, Utah, is a world-renowned landmark, particularly among photographers.

Broken glass from candleholders is scattered on the soil, the day after the wedding, Sept. 3, 2023.

Broken glass from candleholders is scattered on the soil, the day after the wedding, Sept. 3, 2023.

Courtesy of Pamela Gibson

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The Sept. 7 email to Duncan and Gibson from the BLM said the agency would be following up with the wedding couple “in partnership with BLM Law Enforcement.” The agency declined to share further details with SFGATE. Chen and Waldron did not respond to SFGATE’s attempts to reach them for comment. 

Chen and Waldron appear to have wiped away most of their social media posts from the event. A Sept. 14 article from Yahoo News about the wedding contained links to now-deleted posts on X, formerly known as Twitter. Waldron still has a photo online of the pair at the site, but it’s attached to a deleted thread.

The mess left after the wedding was first reported by the Moab Times-Independent, but the outlet did not report the couple’s names.

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Hear of anything happening at a Bay Area tech company? Contact tech reporter Stephen Council securely at [email protected] or on Signal at 628-204-5452.

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